YUBA COUNTY (CBS13) — Drivers on Highway 70 were on guard this week after spotting the same car driving recklessly on the road. CHP officers made an arrest and it was all thanks to details they received from concerned drivers.
“We took every opportunity as possible to take some action on this one,” said Captain Seon Harris, a commander for CHP Yuba-Sutter. “It’s all too often that we can’t do it.”
Harris says CHP gets reports of bad driving all the time but often officers don’t have enough evidence to find the driver. But this time was different.
“It’s that little white car again and I’m thinking ‘Oh crap, it’s that same guy,” said Gonzalo Peewee Curiel.
Everyday around 3 p.m., Curiel heads home on Highway 70. And every day this week, he’s seen a white sedan driving erratically through traffic.
“I just kind of thought nothing of it,” he said, when he saw the car near Woodruff Lane on Monday. “Just some idiot out on the highway.”
But Tuesday, Curiel spotted the car again crossing yellow lines and cutting in front of other drivers. He turned on his dash cam and sent the video to CHP.
“I thought, ‘Aww man, here he comes,” Curiel said.
“This is the chance that we can actually do something if it’s an established pattern,” said Captain Harris.
Typically, officers can’t find a driver without at least license plate number. This time, a clear picture of the plate led them straight to the driver’s home but they needed to catch him in the act. So Thursday, CHP called its air operations unit hoping to spot the driver from the sky.
“They were overhead at about the right time,” Harris said. “And it took a matter of minutes before he’s passing three vehicles through the center line.”
The driver has been identified as Leonel Almonte. He was booked at Yuba County Jail and faces a misdemeanor charge for reckless driving. His car was impounded. According to Harris, Almonte said the reason for his erratic driving was because of his job working a graveyard shift in Butte County.
“He likes to sleep and so he sets his sleep schedule to the last possible minute and in order to get to work on time, he has to drive in the way he was driving,” Harris explained. “That was it!”
CHP does not believe Almonte was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving.